“I always say the first time I fell in love was 24 years ago, when I opened the door to my blind date and saw my future husband,” says Tara Coppola. “The second time was when I got off the plane in Florence seven years ago, and knew this was a place in which I could create something very special. A fine work of art. A wedding.”
Tara started a sister company, TCF Tuscan Weddings, for her existing company specializing in planning weddings in Tuscany. At that point, she had never dreamed of planning her own wedding and vow renewal ceremony. She and her husband, Greg Fontana, originally had a simple wedding in Aspen, Colorado with their two best friends as witnesses. With their 20th wedding anniversary coming up, however, they decided to plan something special to honor the milestone.
“FOR THEIR 20TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, THEY DECIDED TO PLAN SOMETHING SPECIAL TO HONOR THE MILESTONE.” TARA COPPOLA
The vow renewal came after an emotional and tumultuous year, during which Tara was diagnosed with two rare genetic blood disorders only found in people of Mediterranean decent. For a year, she was under the care of a wonderful doctor in Modena, Italy, and made trips over to Europe every three months.
“I am happy to say that all of my numbers have improved, and I feel the best I have in years,” Tara declares. “So this anniversary was a special one for many reasons, which inspired me to plan our dream wedding in Tuscany.”
During a fantastic wine tasting dinner at Tenuta Torciano Winery, San Gimignano, the couple knew the winery would be the perfect venue for their vow renewal. Owners Pierluigi Giachi and his wife Luciana were especially accommodating, playing a principal role in the wedding planning process. Tara also had the best vendors in Florence at her fingertips, ensuring that the couple’s destination affair would be an unforgettable experience.
With one of Greg’s passions being surfing, Tara made it a point to incorporate surfing elements into their special day. Legendary Florence-based goldsmith, Paolo Penko, crafted Tara’s ring into a Florentine crown, Greg’s ring was a traditional Tuscan cross, and his boutonniere was a solid silver surfboard. Their naked wedding cake was also joined by 36 surfing-inspired cupcakes in a variety of flavors.
The wedding day began with a helicopter ride over San Gimignano – a gift from Pierluigi and Luciana. Greg, Tara, and photographer Andrea Pitti spent a half hour flying over the city and lush acres of wine vineyards before the ceremony.
“My Italian father passed away when I was 13-years-old, but it was my dream to have an Italian man who I held near and dear to my heart walk me down the aisle,” says Tara. “That man was winery owner, Pierluigi. Not only was it an honor for him, but it was for me as well.”
Having known the Penko family for years, their dog Fiorino also served as the ring bearer. The blessing took place under a gazebo adorned in roses and greenery, and 30 guests were in attendance. Guests were then treated to a five-course Tuscan meal and a wine tasting presentation of ten different wines – all, rated in the high 90th percentile by Wine Spectator Magazine.
“The overall feeling of the day and night was love,” Tara recalls. “To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, ‘If you look for it, I have a sneaking suspicion love, actually, is all around us.’”
Location: Tenuta Torciano San Gimignano, Italy; Event Design and Planner: TCF Tuscan Weddings, Orlando, FL; Floral Design: Artemisia Fioristi, Florence, Italy; Cake: Dolce Lab Café, Florence, Italy